U.S. corporates are seeking chief financial officers and financial leaders with a bit more experience under their belts, according to executive search firm Crist|Kolder Associates.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the Crist|Kolder analysis on Tuesday (Aug. 27), which found the average age of new-hire corporate CFOs is on the rise. Reports said the average age of a CFO at a Fortune 500 or S&P 500 company is 52.8, marking the first time the average has surpassed the age of 50.
“This is not the time for first-time CFOs,” said Stanton Chase Managing Director Cathy Logue in an interview with the publication. “At a time when an industry and a company is under tremendous pressure, you want a CFO at the helm who has experience and who can help bring the business back on track.”
The report pointed to Kraft Heinz Co., which announced earlier this week that its former finance chief, Paulo Basilio, 44, would become its new CFO. He replaces David Knopf, who took up the role of CFO at age 29 in 2017 — becoming the youngest CFO at a Fortune 500 company. But Kraft Heinz revealed its financial struggles in its quarterly reports in recent quarters, with share prices dropping by about 40 percent since the beginning of 2019.
“The new CEO [Miguel Patricio, appointed to the position last June] is an outsider and needs someone who knows the business,” explained Guggenheim Securities Senior Analyst Laurent Grandet. “The departing CFO was not experienced to help [Patricio]. Experience comes with age.”
“Companies and boards want somebody to come into the finance chair that has CFO experience and that doesn’t need training,” added Crist|Kolder Associates Chairman Peter Crist in another interview.
According to the report, Coca-Cola, Chevron and Tapestry are all among the conglomerates that have recently appointed CFOs in their mid-50s. Coca-Cola placed John Murphy in the role in March, while Chevron Pointed to Pierre Breber’s experience as one of his biggest strengths when the company announced its appointment to CFO in February.